Summer is the time to pick, prepare, grill, and/or just gobble up raw all kinds of luscious, fresh foods. And we’re right in the thick of it, my friends. This is the perfect time to make some simple changes to your nutrition routine—and love every bite of it—with a few uncomplicated sauces of summer that will make your seasonal eats even more delicious.
I’ll never forget my first taste of chimichurri sauce. I was running some lunchtime errands, and when I stopped at my local bread shop to pick up my weekly loaf of spelt, I discovered they were also making sandwiches. The fixins looked fresh and delicious, so I ordered the roast beef. With my first bite, I realized I would not be saving any of it for later. Sure, I’d had roast beef sandwiches before, but this one was on another plane entirely. What separated it from the rest was the heavenly, vibrant green sauce slathered on the bread. Hello, chimichurri sauce. It’s a pleasure to meet you. May our paths cross again and again.
Packed with parsley, garlic, and vinegar, this Argentinian sauce has only good stuff in it. It’s a whiz to make, too. All you need to do is throw everything in a food processor and drizzle in the oil. I’ve found it goes well with almost anything you can think of: chicken, grilled veggies, an old shoe, etc., but beef seems to be the natural fit. If you’ve never had chimichurri sauce, you’ve been missing out.
Another green beauty of a summer sauce is pesto. Traditional pesto includes basil, pine nuts, garlic, and Parmesan, but the variations are endless. A friend in Omaha makes her pesto with basil from her garden, a bunch of garlic, and almonds, skipping the cheese altogether. Her method really opened my eyes to the possibilities of this lovely sauce.
SRP’s own Chef Briana Goodall shared her recipe for Parsley, Arugula, and Hazelnut Pesto awhile back and even offered up a formula of sorts for how to make your own variation. Start with an herb or vegetable of your choosing, add your favorite nut, and decide if cheese is your thing or not. Whirl it up with some olive oil in your food processor, and you’ll have a sauce you can use on grilled meats, veggies, or even just whole grain crackers.
One of the most ubiquitous sauces of summer has to be BBQ sauce. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like some variation—sweet, spicy, smoky, vinegary, you name it. I dare say that BBQ sauce itself hasn’t met many food items it doesn’t pair well with either. (Okay, drawing the line at dessert might be necessary, but that’s about it.)
The bad thing about the bottled BBQ sauce you buy at your local market is that they’re often loaded with several kinds of sweeteners—and not the healthy kinds. But since it couldn’t be easier to make your own, there’s no need to buy it anyway. You’ll find a delicious yet simple BBQ sauce in Men in Kitchens by Nick Armstrong, Patrick Earvolino, and Michael Adams. Prepared with muscovado sugar and unsulphured molasses (both healthy sweeteners), as well as chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, it’s got the perfect combination of sweetness and smokiness. Super yummy! If you need the recipe in a hurry, you can find it here.
Summer foods and sauces go together like nobody’s business. And when you make them in your own kitchen, you’re adding loads of nutritional value to your meals. What sauces do you use all summer long?
Image from iStock/nd3000.